Indexed on: 16 Feb '11Published on: 16 Feb '11Published in: Langmuir
The HFBII hydrophobin is an amphiphilic protein that can irreversibly adsorb at the air/water interface. The formed protein monolayers can reach a state of two-dimensional elastic solid that exhibits a high mechanical strength as compared to adsorption layers of typical amphiphilic proteins. Bubbles formed in HFBII solutions preserve the nonspherical shape they had at the moment of solidification of their surfaces. The stirring of HFBII solutions leads to the formation of many bubbles of micrometer size. Measuring the electrophoretic mobility of such bubbles, the ζ-potential was determined. Upon compression, the HFBII monolayers form periodic wrinkles of wavelength 11.5 μm, which corresponds to bending elasticity k(c) = 1.1 × 10(-19) J. The wrinkled hydrophobin monolayers are close to a tension-free state, which prevents the Ostwald ripening and provides bubble longevity in HFBII stabilized foams. Films formed between two bubbles are studied by experiments in a capillary cell. In the absence of added electrolyte, the films are electrostatically stabilized. The appearance of protein aggregates is enhanced with the increase of the HFBII and electrolyte concentrations and at pH close to the isoelectric point. When the aggregate concentration is not too high (to block the film thinning), the films reach a state with 12 nm uniform thickness, which corresponds to two surface monolayers plus HFBII tetramers sandwiched between them. In water, the HFBII molecules can stick to each other not only by their hydrophobic moieties but also by their hydrophilic parts. The latter leads to the attachment of HFBII aggregates such as dimers, tetramers, and bigger ones to the interfacial adsorption monolayers, which provides additional stabilization of the liquid films.